Thursday, February 25, 2010

Give to Haiti

Like many people throughout the world, I have looked on with a heavy heart at the plight of Haiti. Anything an individual can do seems insignificant in face of the challenges, but do things and give and give we must. I’ve read the latest reports that rebuilding Haiti will take $14 billion, says the Inter-American Development Bank. According to the BBC, aid pledged by governments, agencies, organizations and individuals is approaching $1.8 billion. The American Red Cross reported that as of Feb.10, it had received $255 million for Haiti relief and recovery efforts. Two billion against 14. The size of the Haitian economy is only $10 billion a year. This amounts to a massive shortfall.

The IADB study says that the Haitian earthquake is likely to be the most destructive natural disaster in modern times, when viewed in relation to the size of the Haiti's population and its economy – much more destructive than the Indonesian Tsunami of 2004, and causing five times more deaths per million inhabitants than the second-ranking natural killer, the 1972 earthquake in Nicaragua.

Before the earthquake Haiti was the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country. Once, according to the Guardian,”Haiti had been the world's richest colony, providing half the globe's sugar and other exports including coffee, cotton, hardwood and indigo that exceeded the value of everything produced in the US in 1788. However, by the early 1780s, half of Haiti's forests were gone, leading to the devastating erosion and extreme poverty that bedevils the country today.”

The Guardian continues: “In 1825, crippled by a US-led international embargo that was enforced by French warships, Haiti agreed to pay France 150m francs in compensation for the lost "property" – including slaves – of French plantation owners. By comparison, France sold the US its immensely larger Louisiana Territory in 1803 for just 60m francs. The amount for Haiti was later lowered to 90m gold francs. Haiti did not finish paying the debilitating debt – which was swollen by massive interest payments to French and American banks – until 1947.”

In the 122 years it took Haiti – the world's first black republic and the only nation born of a slave revolt – to pay off the debt to France, the principal and interest had reached $21 billion. President Jean-Bertrand Aristide had commenced a reparations and restitution campaign, but was ousted in a coup.

On a visit to Haiti last week, French President Nicolas Sarkozy promised €230m in aid for Haiti, canceled the island's debt of €56m, and acknowledged wounds of France's brutal colonization. This is a start but a drop in the bucket compared to what France and other nations have extracted from Haiti over the centuries.

In a somewhat bitter irony, Bloomberg and others have reported that the earthquake may have opened up oil deposits that have been long speculated to be under Haiti.

My hope is that governments do the right thing by Haiti and its people, instead of ripping them off like they have for centuries. In the meantime, give give give – to UNICEF, American Red Cross, International Committee of the Red Cross, Oxfam, Médecins Sans Frontières, World Vision, Mercy Corps, your Church.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

You Were Born To Save the Planet

Adam Werbach, the CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi S, recently spoke at the 5th Annual Teens Turning Green Summit in California to an audience of keen, sustainability-minded young people. His message – on the opportunities this generation has to create positive change and the power of DOTs – clearly resonated, and is now spreading like wildfire on the web. It’s a welcome shot of inspiration for anyone, whether you’re teen or senior, whether you consider yourself Green or Blue. Below is a shortened version of Adam’s speech, you can read the full version here. KR.

The Earth needs you right now. Our ecological systems are in decline, one-third of fish species stand at the verge of collapse, the glaciers of the Himalayas, which provide drinking water to over a billion people, are rapidly melting, the chemicals we're putting in us, on us and around us are forming complex endocrine disrupting compounds that are in every one of our bodies. Tonight hundreds of thousands of Haitians are sleeping below flimsy plastic shelters wondering where they'll find their next meal, wondering when their kids will start going to school again.

All of this bad news should make me crawl up into a ball. But instead I'm oddly optimistic, like a kid looking for coins in a payphone. The world may be screwed up, but it's changing faster than ever. Your challenge is to make the type of change we want at the speed we need. And you have it in your neural programming to make it so. Recent brain studies show that your brain moves faster when you're younger, so you're bringing more processing power to the challenge. All of that texting and facebooking is going to pay off in spades. The world is changing and your generation was born to save the planet.

Any movement starts with yourself. I ask you to pick a DOT – DOT stands for Do One Thing. One thing that's good for you, good for the planet, that you do regularly. Maybe it's yoga or riding your bike or saving energy. But it's one thing you do to put your body where your mouth is. We need a billion DOTs. One billion people all making their own commitments. Take a moment now and choose your own DOT. Share it with a friend. Keep it going. Pick another. And it all adds up. If every high schooler turned the thermostat in their house down by one degree Celsius, it would be like reducing 100,000 tanker trucks of gasoline, or taking over a million cars off the road.

Right now there are about 6.7 billion people on the planet. And there's an emerging bulge of teenagers at the bottom of the demographic pyramid that exists because fertility rates are dropping globally. By 2011 there will be 7 billion people and 1 billion teenagers on the planet. Can you imagine 1 billion teenagers? Can you imagine them talking all at once? Now imagine them all walking in the same direction in a line that's as long as 1,000,000 Empire State Buildings. Can you see it? The line would stretch around the earth fifteen times. Can you see it? Now imagine one billion DOTs. All coming together. I'll bet on that.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Viva Las Sevens

Today’s guest post comes from my good friend Bob Latham, Vice-Chairman of the Board at USA Rugby. Bob has been a key player in this organization for many years and was also a member of the Board of Directors of the US Olympic Committee from 2000-2004. Bob practices law in Texas with Jackson Walker L.L.P and is Chairman of the firm’s media law and intellectual property litigation practices. His rugby career started at Stanford University, continued at the University of Virginia Law School, and he then played for 13 years for the Dallas Harlequins as well as for the Texas Select Side. In short – he knows his rugby. Here’s Bob’s perspective on the recent World Sevens event in Las Vegas. KR.

For the first time since 7’s Rugby was admitted to the Olympic games, an American audience had a chance to see this exciting new kid on the Olympic block at an international level. Sixteen of the leading national 7’s teams in the world descended upon Las Vegas this last weekend for the USA Sevens – one of eight stops on the IRB’s World Sevens Series. The intimate 32,000 seat Sam Boyd Stadium was an exciting new venue for the event, with the players feeling the energy of the crowd and with one open end of the stadium providing a magnificent view of the setting sun reflecting off the neighboring desert mountains. The boisterous, flag waving Kenyans, Fijians and Samoans, numbering in the thousands each, provided the energy, and with 40,000 or so spectators in the stadium over two days it is possible to picture the event being a sellout within the next two years. The Samoans left happy, as their team decisively beat New Zealand in the Cup final.

Al Caravelli’s young U.S. team gave American fans a glimpse into the 7’s future. The way they bonded around player Marco Barnard, whose father unexpectedly passed away the Wednesday before the tournament, was inspirational – Barnard’s presence itself being a testament to the commitment of the U.S. team. In six matches, the Eagles played only one bad half – against South Africa – in finishing 4 and 2 and capturing the bowl championship. A decisive win over cross border rival Canada, 26-5, on Saturday followed the loss to South Africa and an extremely close call against mighty Fiji.

The exclamation point on Saturday came when veteran U.S. center Paul Emerick set up Bennie Brazell, who just picked up a rugby ball for the first time roughly a month ago, for his first international try. Brazell is a former NFL player (Cincinnati Bengals) who also made the finals in the 400 meter hurdles at the 2004 Athens Olympic. This is the type of athletic talent that Coach Carravelli is able to tap into with the specter of an Olympic medal and the fact that 7’s rugby allows players to be fast tracked into the squad.

The Eagles swept their matches on Sunday against Guyana, Argentina and France to the delight of a very conspicuous Eagle mascot working the crowd and the many American rugby tourists who convinced their loved ones that Vegas was the perfect destination on Valentine’s Day.

There was at least one valentine’s inspired moment as U.S. team captain Kevin Swiryn went “Boise State” on us and proposed to his girlfriend Lauren – a Women’s National Team sevens player herself – on the pitch and captured by the Stadium scoreboard, after the 28-17 victory over France. Their union puts the U.S. in good position, from a DNA perspective, to win Olympic gold in 2036, if not before.

Bob Latham

Monday, February 22, 2010

Being Digital At Lancaster University

Last week, along with Tom Eslinger, our Worldwide Creative Head of Digital, I was up at Lancaster University talking to HighWire students about our digital world. These PhD’s with interests in computer science, all things digital, and management, represent in many ways a microcosm of our future. We talked about a lot but the key thing on my mind was that digitization, and the power of the Internet and the mobile, should be the most liberating forces ever for creativity. We believe at Saatchi & Saatchi in the unreasonable power of creativity and nothing can set this free more than being digital.

I’m working with my youngest son, Danis, on a venture in the UK which hopes to bring back some economic sense to one of the UK’s most creative industries – music. For me the Internet is where true artists will thrive and where the exploiters and manipulators, who have been sucking their lifeblood for decades, will disappear. Galleries who take 50% of their artists’ revenue, publishing houses who take pretty much all of the net proceeds of written works, and the record labels are all facing tough times if not oblivion. Every artist, author, and musician can now bypass all these institutions and create their own distribution model and their own fan base.

As I was talking to the HighWire students, I was stressing the need for all creative folks nowadays to invest time in understanding the Internet and basic economic management in order to create new, sustainable business models with ideas and creativity at the core. Instead of being frightened of technology in business, true creative people should welcome learning about this as just another extension of their own art. Digital technology means there are no barriers of scale or production to distributing great ideas and if our artists and our academic institutions can see this then we are on the verge of a real creative renaissance.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Soft Eyes Rule

In the Participation Economy, where one-to-many is trumped every day by many-to-many, emotional connections drive everything. Expect the next legends of management and leadership to be supreme at collaboration and connectivity, to be collaborative connectors par excellence. This is very good workplace news for women and “must try harder” news for many men.

On this note, some recent and extensive BCG research reported in the WSJ blinked my eyes. Apart from showing how out of touch male managers and marketers are with women as consumers, and the influence of “the female economy” (women make 70+% of the purchases of discretionary consumer goods), a wake up fact for the guys is the size and growth of this, the fastest growing global market. It is bigger and growing faster than the consumer economies of China and India – combined.

All this places an ever higher premium on the skill set coalescing in and among and around women. The future of value is about involvement, joining in, sharing, teamwork, fun and togetherness. And in a snowstorm of information, it’s very much about intuition and recognizing patterns in the snow to accelerate value. Tim O’Reilly, Founder and CEO of O'Reilly Media, Inc: “We need ‘soft eyes’ that take in everything we see, not just what we are looking for.”

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

InspirUS at Lancaster Royal Grammar School

Jenny Cornell, the Development Director of my old school, Lancaster Royal Grammar School, wrote this piece on the school’s exciting new InspirUS programme . . . and I wanted to share it. KR

You may well remember when you started secondary (high) school – fresh from the security and familiarity of your primary school - nervous, naïve, anxious but determined to make it.

Did you have any idea what opportunities awaited you or how your life would turn out?

Perhaps you can now look back and appreciate what a great start you had – how it prepared you for what was coming next (though you might not have recognised it at the time).

Andrew Jarman, the Head of Lancaster Royal Grammar School, has introduced a really worthwhile initiative to help reach out to more kids like us. There are lots of bright youngsters around Lancaster today who come from ordinary family backgrounds where life may be tough. Sound familiar? These children would really benefit from the unique opportunities at LRGS which could lay a foundation for a life they never dreamed of!

The InspirUS project is a new and innovative programme to help unlock the talent in these youngsters. Over fifty primary schools in the Lancaster area will be included where bright boys and girls from any background will be invited to attend challenging masterclasses at LRGS.

The aim is to inspire these youngsters, to stretch and stimulate them to give them the skills and confidence they need to make positive changes in their lives. We hope that, through the programme, more children will be made aware of the opportunities available to them and that they become better informed about their prospects.

Thanks to the generosity of some old boys of the school, enough funding has been raised to launch the initiative. Specialist teacher, Kathryn Page, has been recruited to begin the work, visiting primary schools to work with the primary heads and teachers, talking through the benefits of the programme and helping to identify the children best suited for inclusion. The first tranche of youngsters was welcomed to the InspirUS classroom in January.

The children spend the afternoon exploring topics beyond their normal studies. Last week it was “Water Water Everywhere”. After finding out about David Hockney, the youngsters produced their own artwork on watery themes, in the artist's style, listening to Louis Armstrong singing 'What a Wonderful World', and then did some quick-fire sums, with percentages and fractions, all based on how much water we use in the home and learned the meaning of a wonderful new word – ubiquitous.

This week the theme was "Is there anybody out there?!". To the soundtrack of David Bowie’s Space Oddity, the children had fun imagining how they would communicate with alien species – by code. They cracked number codes, learned about Braille, discovered the strange language of Pig Latin and found out how to use binary code to reveal hidden messages. A cheer went up when it was revealed to them that the next session will be “May the Force be With You”, complete with a visit from Darth Vadar …

The lessons are lively, pacey and great fun and with four sessions completed, the children are all eager for more … and more schools and parents are asking for their children to be included. Let’s hope their experiences will, at least, ease their transition from primary school to secondary school and, even better, unlock their potential to make life changing choices.

Jenny Cornell

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Creative Segways

Sometimes in life – boardroom, living room or classroom – we get so scared of failure that we make it impossible for ourselves to succeed. In an economy in reset mode, the unreasonable power of creativity is what will set smart people and companies apart. But the thing about creativity is that it breeds failure as well as success.

That's the paradox. In a jittery economy, people suppress creativity to minimize the risk of failure, and companies often encourage that kind of insular thinking. But it's exactly the wrong approach – if allowed to set in, fear of failure will set an organization on auto-pilot, nose down.

Jonah Lehrer wrote on his blog in December about how psychologists are learning more about how the creative brain functions. He used the example of a simple but powerful experiment among college students. Two groups were told to list as many modes of transport as they could. The only difference was that one group was told the idea for the research came from exchange students in Greece, and the second group was told it came from classmates from down the hall.

Fascinating results. The 'down the hall' group came in with a predictable set of responses like car, bus and train. The 'Greece' group let their imagination run wild, generating far more answers, naming horses, ancient warships, spaceships and, yes, Segways.

The only difference was that one group was given the smallest permission to think fearlessly, and they jumped at it. Lehrer uses this research to argue in favor of the mind-opening possibilities of travel, and he's right. More importantly, it reveals the way the creative mind flourishes in the right conditions, and closes down in the wrong ones.

Fast Company magazine backed this up when they reported the findings of Harvard Business School research into the work habits of 238 creative professionals. The findings revealed that "creativity is positively associated with joy and love and negatively associated with anger, fear, and anxiety." The researchers argue that a fearful or negative workplace environment is an anathema to creativity and that "when people are doing work that they love and they're allowed to deeply engage in it – and when the work itself is valued and recognized – then creativity will flourish."

The lesson is obvious. We need to overwhelm tough times with our boundless and brazen creativity – not the other way around.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Is the Optimism Glass Half-Foolish?

Smile or Die: How Positive Thinking Fooled America and the World by Barbara Ehrenreich

I love a provocateur and welcome an opposing view. In Melbourne's Age newspaper, researcher and woman's health advocate, Trish Bolton, has offered plenty of food for thought in an opinion piece titled 'Always being positive can become a negative'.

The article contains some compelling arguments about the ‘cult of cheerfulness’ and whether 'positive thinking' is, well, positive. The Age column reviews the book by Barbara Ehrenreich (pictured), Smile or Die: How Positive Thinking Fooled America and the World. The starting point of the enquiry is when the author, who upon diagnosis with cancer, was "presented with ribbons and teddies" instead of the medical and scientific guidance she craved; and progresses through to the “reckless optimism” that she says caused the recent economic calamities.

But the broad idea that we are overwhelmed with positivity suggests that the writer has not watched the TV news, listened to a politician, read a letter to the editor, switched on a radio or logged on to the Internet in quite some time.

Are we to believe that this cult of positivity makes it hard for people at work to express doubts or raise questions for fear of being seen as "negative and counter-productive"? From my experience, it is the opposite. In many instances, people find it easier and safer to find reasons against doing something, excuses not to make changes or be against new ideas. I have never walked away from a meeting thinking "that was great, but I wish it was less positive."

The case is further stretched by arguing that it is an aversion to negativity that keeps people from tackling big issues like climate change. I actually think that apathy and cynicism about government action keeps people off the streets — not optimism or a surplus of positive thinking.

A radical optimist is not blind to the realities of life — and reality is often undeniably harsh and challenging. Instead, a radical optimist wants to say yes to opportunities that exist, not find reasons to say no. They seek out change and challenge.

I don't see radical optimism as a state of denial. We live in the real world and, like anyone else, we see and hear and experience negative things. We just refuse to be overwhelmed by them.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Nothing Adds Like Art

They’ve done it again, the fabulous team at Art Production Fund welcomed in the decade with a Public Art Project that traveled the streets of New York on hundreds of wheels for the month of January. It's a case of transforming a commercial platform into a moving stage of cultural messaging - expanding social awareness and encouraging dialogue 24 / 7 across a wide and diverse audience (this project has been seen by over 5 million people daily).

Three renowned artists (Alex Katz, Shirin Neshat and Yoko Ono), 500 taxi tops, an advertiser that’s a believer (go Show Media!), and a non-profit public art producer with Nothing is Impossible emblazoned on their door and pursued with passion every day. Check out this video for the cabs-as-art full story, with some added advice on what makes an art work a success. More details here.

The cabby mobile art show is an inspired example of commitment to creativity - art as the communicator, relaying important issues directly into the public arena. Art has a unique role to play in illuminating the public space, and Art Production Fund has worked magic in bringing difficult-to-produce works to new audiences in tough times. Take a look at some recent projects and collaborations.

Art Production Fund has been living under the roof at Saatchi & Saatchi New York on Hudson Street now for over two years. They speak our language and we love having them. The good news is that there’s more mobile art on the horizon. Here’s to the creative enterprise of Yvonne Force Villareal, Doreen Remen and Casey Fremont, and their team of committed artists, interns and supporters. “Art Adds”, forever.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Power of Positivity

Regulars on this blog will have noticed a recurring theme in recent posts, optimism and the pursuit of happiness. Given what’s behind 2010 I’m keen to flex this springboard for a better decade, as is my long-time academic colleague and friend Dr. Mike Pratt.

A decade ago at the Waikato Management School, Mike, Clive Gilson and I co-authored the book Peak Performance: Business Lessons from the World's Top Sports Organizations. Ten years on, Mike and his wife Helga have just produced a terrific new book Sustainable Peak Performance (published by Pearson) which shows - through case studies and models - how sustainable enterprise is the future of business.

There’s a good range of enterprise stories, which include Putumayo, Stonyfield, Farm, The Body Shop, The Eden Project, Forum for the Future, Snowy Peak, Comvita, Patagonia, and Dilmah Tea.

What encourages me in the theory developed is the pivotal role of “positivity” in Sustainable Peak Performance, and the links made between sustainability, happiness and performance. Part of the book shows how the three concepts of 1. wellbeing (happiness), 2. working in “flow” or full engagement, and 3. making a difference as an enterprise can create the context for performance.

At the personal level, happiness comes through choice and action. The choice part is about ensuring both self-discipline over mind / body / spirit and self-determination of our own fate across all walks of life. The action part is about activities that provide gratification through progressing meaningful goals and activities that simply provide pleasure. Sounds spot on. And / And strikes again.

To quote a key passage from Sustainable Peak Performance:

“… happy people appear to choose meaningful personal and work-related goals, undertake activities that enable them to exercise their ‘signature strengths’ and virtues, make meaningful progress towards the achievement of their goals, and embrace altruistic goals and activities.”

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Insanely, Fantastically, Brilliantly Amazing

One thing about the January 27th launch of the Apple iPad clashing with President Obama's first State of the Union address was that they both focused on Jobs.

And check out the awesome enthusiasm Steve Jobs and his team have for their new baby in this video!

A lot of hype and hyped-up criticism have accompanied the launch of the iPad. Nothing new there. Apple attracted lots of criticism with the launch of the iPod in 2001 (total sales: 220 million) and the iPhone in 2007 (total sales: 34 million). They centered on a perceived lack of functionality. So it's not surprising to hear gripes that iPad doesn't support HDMI or Flash graphics, or have a built-in camera.

The critics have missed the point. The iPad is not a netbook or scaled-down laptop. In fact, it is only a distant relative to the traditional PC or Mac. Instead, its lineage is the DVD player, the VCR, the television set, the radio, the newspaper, the telephone, the telegraph. It is not a workhorse loaded up with functions and hardware. It is a platform for story-telling, interactive, personal and immediate.

The story of human technology is the relentless advance in the direction of greater utility, connectivity, immediacy, affordability and flexibility. The iPad represents a quantum leap in that direction.

We want to communicate with each other, cheaply and easily. We want information where and when we need it. We want to be entertained and to entertain ourselves. We want to get closer to the people and the things we love. The iPad promises to do that. Technology that fails to serve that purpose is just a gadget, suitable for little more than collecting dust.

There's an interesting blog post in the NY Times predicting that the iPad will become an irresistible toy for children because kids will love the tactile nature of the device (they love to jab at things!), 'painting' software allows for mess-free splatter, it’s an ideal distraction for car trips, and the screen offers endless story opportunities. I couldn't agree more, but the author could go even further: They are pretty compelling reasons for adults to get their hands on an iPad, too.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Made With Love By New Zealanders

New Zealand’s reputation for fine Pinot Noir has gone from strength to strength in recent years and, given the variety’s reputation as one of the more difficult wines to make, this is something to celebrate.

The four day Pinot Noir 2010 event held recently in Wellington was a blend of international wine critics, buyers and writers tasting the best New Zealand wine and cuisine, with discussions around branding, sustainability and my topic, Love. I offered some ideas to help New Zealand Pinot Noir continue to attract premium margins in a competitive furnace.

In short, to play the super-premium Lovemarks game, the industry needs to make more than the highest quality wine. We need to make wines that are bigger than a brand; create priceless offerings of creativity, storytelling and magic; and dream infusions of mystery, sensuality and intimacy from the shelf back not simply the fruit forward.

None of us is as strong as all of us together. I made the case for the New Zealand government to pop the cork on a creative global trade brand for not only wine, but music, film, fashion and food – all of our creative industries. ‘Made by New Zealanders’ has to carry with it a pulsing emotional charge.

And small wine businesses - to thrive not just survive - need to catapult themselves into global consciousness using the mass participation platforms of the Consumer Revolution.

New Zealand Pinot Noir is not just about the wine, it’s about the people who make it, love it and share it to the power of millions.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

New Zealand's Optimism Ambassador

There was some great news out of New Zealand last month when it was announced that Mike Moore had been made the next Ambassador to the US. I have had very positive relationships with his predecessors, Roy Fergusson and Jim Bolger, and caught up with Mike at the US-NZ Business Council meeting in DC last year (I serve as Business Ambassador for that group).

Mike Moore has an eye-popping résumé. First elected as a Member of Parliament in 1972 at the age of 23, he became New Zealand's barnstorming Trade Minister in the 1980s. He built a global reputation by tackling the unfair and anti-competitive trade practices of Britain, Europe and the US that victimize NZ agricultural producers (and still do!). He was briefly Prime Minister, and stayed on as Opposition Leader until 1993.

Mike is widely admired as a great communicator about, and tireless champion for, free and open markets as a means to greater prosperity and freedom in all corners of the world. That explains why, in 1999, he rose to become Director-General of the World Trade Organization.

In 2009, Mike published his tenth book, "Saving Globalization: Why Globalization and Democracy Offer the Best Hope for Progress, Peace and Development". It is a rollicking, ebullient read. In the author’s words, “the purpose of this book…is to champion, unashamedly and unapologetically, the essential ingredients of freedom”. He is a self-described “reckless optimist” who turns his impressive rhetorical firepower on the baseless negativity we hear about the world. Surveying the past 30 years, he notes:

“The Soviet Empire imploded and retreated without firing a shot. Most of Central America, all of South America and half of Europe, and South Africa has come out from under the jackboot of military and command economies… people power has exploded everywhere…the Philippines, Indonesia, Peru, Chile and South Korea…Extremists threaten, bomb and maim, but continually fail to extinguish this wave of optimism.”
This is a powerful book from an impressive man. The NZ-USA relationship is in radically optimistic hands.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Pray Together, Stay Together

Participation knows no bounds. In the world of many to many, no one can rest on their laurels. Not even if you’re 82, and head of one of the largest religious movements in the world. Pope Benedict has urged his priests to spread the Catholic message through “the latest generation of audio-visual resources – images, videos, animated features, blogs, websites – which, alongside traditional means, can open up broad new vistas for dialogue…".

While it’s unlikely the Pope himself is Tweeting, this is looking to the horizon. Can there be any social movement in the world that is not prepared to put its message in the hands of people around the world? By giving up an element of control, the message spreads widely, more quickly. In turn, you can guarantee there is a degree of trust when you receive information from your friends, in your network. Participation is all about authenticity, not an email robot, nor a blanket email to thousands of subscribers.

The Pope is online now in a big way. Saatchi & Saatchi Italy are answering the call in their own country too, becoming a new communication partner of Euro Digital Equipment, collaborating on the creation of prexcommunion.com, a new online community devoted to praying together, in addition to working on the iPrex application for iPhone. Given the empirical links between spirituality and happiness, this approach can work in other countries, other cultures, other religions too. It’s about authenticity, speaking from the heart, and sharing with those you care about. That’s universal.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Planes Do Land Safely

The old Fleet Street newspaper editor was sadly on the money when he described the news business in five words: "If it bleeds, it leads." So was the humorist who noted that it isn't often that you see the headline: "Plane Lands Safely."

Despite the doom and gloom that pollutes the airwaves and fills the newspapers to overflowing, there is a surprising amount of positive, inspiring stuff happening all the time. It is a shame we have to make an effort to uncover it sometimes.

This story is really good news - reported in the UK Daily Telegraph, about the plan to spread anti-malaria crops in the developing world. Scientists at the University of York believe the new breed of the Artemisia annua plant will be available for poor farmers as a cash crop within two years. It will help fight the spread of malaria, as well as provide a new source of income for struggling communities.

The initiative is supported by grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, an organization doing remarkable things on a huge scale. Above all, it is a brilliant, innovative way to save lives.

If you're in the mood for more uplifting stories, check out GNN -- Good News Now. It's worth a look.

I love the story about the 7 year-old English boy who raised £200,000 for victims of the Haiti earthquake. Or the Chicago high school student who won a $40,000 prize for her cancer research. Let’s keep hunting out stories like these – and send the links to a hundred of our closest friends.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Secretly Famous

A key element of a Lovemark is secret ingredients (in the Mystery bucket). Think the recipe for Coca-Cola. The Harley Davidson sound. How you get the Caramello into the center. Some secrets however are for sharing, not locking up. In sojourns to the Lake District of England where I have a home in Grasmere (the most beautiful village in the whole wide world) I was introduced to Nathan Westgate and his team of ‘secret agents’ who search out the most unique places to stay, eat and visit.

Nathan has created a website Secretly Famous that shares recommendations of quirky and unusual places that have the real charm and character of the Lake District, one of the world’s must-do tourism trails (read your Wordsworth). You’ll find farms, barns, bars, beds and bakeries. His ‘secretly found’ places are all independently owned, are run by people who have amazing passion for what they do, and champion the best local produce.

My favorite place in Grasmere to recover my senses is The Jumble Room run by Andy and Chrissy Hill – “a small bohemian-style restaurant”. You’ll find this is now “Secretly Famous” along with The Randy Pike in Ambleside, Augill Castle near Kirky Stephen, and Little Town Farm near Preston, among many others.

Nathan, who is a brand consultant in Preston, has started with the Lake District and Lancashire, will venture to Cheshire and Yorkshire in 2010, and then the world.